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Journal of Current Forensic Science Research

Journal of Current Forensic Science Research - Volume 2

The Expanding Usage of Forensic DNA: Implications for Addressing Patterns of Racial Discrimination in the U.S. Criminal Justice System

Published on: 05 April 2017

Pages: 1-9

K. Kelly

Department of Political Science, University of Connecticut, Storrs Connecticut. USA

Abstract: The recent expansion in the usage of forensic DNA to solve crimes and to exonerate the wrongly convicted raises questions about the potential of this technology to address long-standing patterns of racial bias and discrimination in the U.S. criminal justice system. DNA evidence has served to free a higher percentage of African Americans relative to whites during post-conviction reviews. In many of these cases DNA not only corrected the injustice for the individuals involved but also served to reveal larger patterns of discrimination, bias, and error within the system. Still, the primary usage of DNA within the criminal justice system is to investigate unsolved crimes, and thus, the largest impact of the increased reliance on DNA will be on the individuals whose profiles are stored in criminal justice databases. Because African American are overrepresented in these databases the likelihood that they will become potential suspects in criminal investigations will be also be higher. The increasing practice of including arrestees in these databases means that entering into this permanent status of criminal suspect in no longer necessarily tied to actually breaking the law. In light of escalating racial tensions the negative implications of expanding our reliance on DNA to solve crime needs to be taken extremely seriously. For forensic scientists this entails educating non-experts within the legal system about what forensic DNA can and cannot do.

Keywords: DNA profiling, DNA databases, Forensic science, Law enforcement.

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